Police investigating the murder of Norma Bell have confirmed a substantial amount of cash appears to be missing from her home.
The 79-year-old was found dead at her home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool on Sunday. Officers have confirmed she had died before a fire was reported at the property
While forensic technicians continue to sift through the wreckage caused by the fire, an amount of cash - said to be in the hundreds of pounds - appears to have been taken from her home, and Norma’s handbag also appears to be missing from the address.
A handbag thought to be missing has now been located.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Alastair Simpson said: “We believe that a substantial amount of cash was taken from Norma’s home.
“If anyone has noticed that someone they know has come into some money over the last couple of days and is concerned about a change in their behaviour, it is really important that they contact police.
“Again, I would appeal to anyone with private CCTV in the area to check their footage and see if there is anything on there between Saturday evening and Sunday morning which could assist us with our investigation.”
Norma had lived at the address for 27 years and was due to celebrate her 80th birthday next month.
Officers continue to visit houses in the local area and are speaking to residents to see if they have any information which may be able to assist the inquiry.
Yesterday, police reminded those in the local community with elderly or vulnerable neighbours or relatives to keep an eye on their wellbeing. They also reminded people not to let strangers into their home with first checking their identification.
Detective Superintendent Simpson continued: “I would again like to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone living in the local area who may have seen or heard anything suspicious from late on Saturday evening into Sunday morning in Westbourne Road to contact police.
“If anyone has information that may be linked to this investigation then I urge them to come forward. Also, if anyone has found a handbag matching the one in the photograph supplied then they should also contact us. You can do so by calling Cleveland Police on 101 or contacting Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”